The main focus of this unit is understanding how keeping physically active can also help our mental health. Exercise releases brain chemicals that affect our mood and make us feel happier. It brings down high levels of stress chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol.
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Some scientific studies have shown that regular exercise can be as effective as anti‐depressant medication in treating mild to moderate depression, but also that it could help protect people against experiencing depression in the first place.
One study showed that the effects of exercise and activity on mental health were enhanced if taking place outside in green space.
Activities that can contribute to your mental health go beyond just physical exercise and can encompass a wide range of hobbies, interests and passions. Research has found that doing things you enjoy, are passionate about or are good at gives you a sense of achievement, meaning and fulfilment which also contribute to your well being.
1.Being active is not only good for the body but also for the mind
In this section, pupils are encouraged to explore how our body and our mind are
connected. That being active can help us feel better as well as being good for our physical health. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. And we can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and – importantly – making sure we get enough sleep! It is
important to explore how sometimes when we lack the energy and do not feel like being
active, this is the very thing that can increase our mood and motivation again.
2. I have a range of hobbies and interests that I enjoy doing
In this section, pupils will explore what passions, hobbies and interests they have that they enjoy and give them a sense of achievement. Doing something you enjoy can improve your confidence and help you stay well so it is important to make time to do things you like, whether it’s reading, singing, drama, music or playing with friends. These activities can help keep our batteries topped up and give us opportunities to have fun and deal with any difficult emotions in a positive way
3. Doing anything new involves taking a risk
Finding something we enjoy will always involve taking a risk as we challenge ourselves to try new things. Encouraging pupils to take a risk by challenging themselves to try new
activities, skills, hobbies or experiences will help build their confidence to tackle future
ones. It also is a platform for helping to demonstrate how our brains grow and change
whenever we do different things (and this continues throughout life – so it’s never too late to learn something new!)